124 Spider Abarth blends pristine fun and affordability – Virginian

The Fiat multiplication of automobile hulk FCA is celebrating a 70th anniversary of a high-performance Abarth segment, now appearing in a guise of a Fiat 124 Abarth and Fiat 500 Abarth.

These are sporty versions of sports cars. The 124 Spider is Fiat’s automobile two-seater. The 500 array is a company’s retro-cool runabout.

Fiat’s attribute with a Abarth association began shortly after former European motorcycle competition champion Carlo Abarth (sometimes famous as Karl) founded a association in 1949. Over a years, a Abarth defense — yellow and red, with a scorpion to paint a founder’s astrological pointer — would seem on many Fiat competition cars and highway cars.

Fiat purchased Abarth undisguised in 1971, and it became partial of FCA after a partnership with Chrysler in 2014.

Now a Abarth moniker represents a sportiest Fiats available.

To whip adult West Coast hum for a anniversary, Fiat member invited dual dozen internal enthusiasts to attend a daylong event of a acclaimed Skip Barber Racing School, and to take some laps around a Willow Springs racetrack in Abarth cars.

Barber instructor Terry Earwood began a Willow Springs day with a marker talk. A devious Southerner, Earwood specialized in homespun wisdom, practical to racing. “Any time they say, ‘Hey y’all watch this,’ we improved run a other approach or prop yourself for a crash,” he said.

He had special warnings for a organisation in a group, who he pronounced tend to be lead-footed on a gas pedal.

“For some reason all God’s masculine children wish to precipitate adult and get to a pile-up site faster,” Earwood said. “The problem is, a right feet is placed too distant from a computer, so it’s stupid.”

Thus instructed, some drivers were sent to learn to control slides during a “skid pad” area, while others were bused to a circuitously “autocross” march to use cornering and braking techniques.

It became clear, quickly, that while a 500 was peppier and some-more fun to expostulate than a non-Abarth counterparts, a 124 was a day’s automobile of choice. Soon, all a drivers were clamoring for another run in a Spider.

The dual cars share a 1.4-liter turbo engine that creates 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Both are offering with primer and involuntary transmissions.

The 500 is front-wheel drive; a 124 is rear-wheel drive. The 124 can usually be had as a convertible, a 500 as a tough tip or with a retractable soothing top.

There a comparisons end. The 500, some-more of a family automobile and a grocery getter, seemed indolent on a track. Though it cornered improved than we expected, it felt tip complicated in a turns.

In fact, a 500 sits 2 inches higher, and is 4 inches narrower, than a go-kart like 124.

And a Spider — well, it’s a genuine sports car.

The complicated 124 Spider finished a entrance in 2015 as a indication year 2016 car, imprinting a lapse to Fiat of a storied nameplate, from a Pininfarina design, that a association sole from 1966 to 1985.

It was rather ridiculed in a motoring press — including by me — as a “Fiata,” since some of a tools were formed on a Mazda MX-5 Miata and were made in Mazda’s plant in Hiroshima, Japan.

But it quick grew on me. Nimble, flexible and sporty, a stick-shift chronicle of a 124 we gathering was peaceful to go as quick as we could pull it by a tilted ascending and downhill march — and would have left many faster with a pro during a wheel.

Having finished some use slides during a “skid pad” instruction period, we found we could concede a back wheels of a 124 to mangle lax only adequate to say dilemma speed — temperament in mind what Earwood had pronounced about removing around a march faster.

“What we’re looking for is exit speed,” Earwood said. “How shortly can we get your front tires true and start accelerating?”

The dual dozen drivers managed to finish a day but any incidents. No Fiats were harmed.

I came divided tender by a Spider’s doing and a pristine fun of pushing it during speed.

Perhaps a many startling thing about a 124 Spider is a price. The automobile is sole in 3 trim levels. The Classica starts during $26,290. The Lusso lists during $28,890. But a Abarth starts only a small higher, during $29,590.

(The involuntary delivery indication adds $1,350 to that. The Brembo opening braking complement tacks on $1,495 more.)

Customers seem to be responding to a sporty feel. Fiat pronounced about 40 percent of 124s sole in a U.S. are Abarth models. Although a “take rate” on primer transmissions on all Fiats sole in a U.S. is about 30 percent, some-more than half of Abarth 124s sole have hang shifts — suggesting they are being bought by people who wish a some-more dynamic, intent pushing experience.

FCA encourages that. The association offers a giveaway day of Bondurant Racing School with each Abarth automobile sold.

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©2018 Los Angeles Times

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